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granddad
06-26-2009, 12:41 PM
I was wondering what is the magic time of day to paint for a PA painting? I always read not to do a painting around nooness because the colors are washed out. So should you not paint from 10 am to 2 pm or something different. Also, what if it is an overcast day, with no sun shining at all. Do you not PA then or paint all day long? thanks for the help, James

Kathryn Wilson
06-26-2009, 12:52 PM
Early morning or late afternoon is peak time for plein air. At noon, there is a lack of shadows and contrast.

Our staff Guide Donna painted on a rainy day, so she can help you more than I can on the question of an overcast day.

Donna T
06-26-2009, 01:18 PM
Great questions, James; I've been trying to figure both of them out. I don't feel comfortable painting alone and most of my painting companions prefer to go out around 10Am so by the time we get to our location and get started the light is pretty much overhead and there isn't much in the way of light/dark contrast in the landscape. Trees seem especially boring when you can't see the definition of their forms. Lately, my solution to this is to not focus on a vista type of landscape scene at this time of day. I'll pick something closer - like a garden in front of a barn. There will always be some kind of contrast to work with and at least this way I am not stuck trying to make big, flatly lit areas look interesting. My favorite time to go out and paint is late afternoon so I can have those long shadow patterns to play with. Colors seem richer also when they are not bleached out by strong noontime sun. I used to think I couldn't paint on overcast days but now I love them. I find that it's actually easier to put some mood into my painting on an overcast day. I can make a quiet mood just by putting a little lavender in the sky instead of the gray that might really be there. Gray can seem depressing but I'm finding that people don't mind a little lavender - as long as you repeat the color throughout your painting. Colors seem to harmonize better with each other when they are lit by soft, indirect light. Weedy grasses that look boring at noon on a sunny day can glow with soft reds and oranges on an overcast, foggy or rainy day. The only reason I won't go out to paint is wind. I hate wind ... unless it's blowing the gnats away. :) I'm sure others have their own ideas about painting times but the main thing is just to get out and see what works or doesn't work for you.

Donna

DFGray
06-26-2009, 04:43 PM
there is a lot to learn from any light condition
there are stories to be told any hour of the day
worked in the rain yesterday which turned into downpour

Donna A
06-26-2009, 09:01 PM
I was wondering what is the magic time of day to paint for a PA painting? I always read not to do a painting around nooness because the colors are washed out. So should you not paint from 10 am to 2 pm or something different. Also, what if it is an overcast day, with no sun shining at all. Do you not PA then or paint all day long? thanks for the help, James
Hi, James! "Magic time" varies from artist to artist! Sometimes it's just a matter of when you can get out! Albert Handell says his favorite time is mid-day! Yes---those over-the-head light/shadow effects! Richard Schmid said years ago that for him the overcast days were his favorites! Others love to go out at day-break! Or dusk!

The earlier or later in the day gives similar light the longest---but a storm can come up within relatively few hours any time of day---so I say GO when you can and plan on painting for a couple of hours at the most in a majority of cases. Perhaps 3 hours early or later!

You paint fast and you paint the major color areas---and then break up those larger areas into smaller areas.

I used to take out at least 40" canvases or large papers, painted fast---and returned the next day and the next, etc! Several days ago---my most recent plein air---I painted a 16"x20". But did that for 2 hours 2 mornings in a row at the same time---about 8:30 to 10:30.

So plein air paint WHEN YOU CAN!!! first! And then count on the light changing noticeably after in about 2 to 3 hours in the early morning or later afternoon---and more quickly toward mid-day!

When I go out for long days, I plan on working on more than one painting! And you CAN go out for several days in a row! You can catch fleeting effects by observing them several days in a row!

I think it's good strategy to quickly rough in a composition and begin painting---and then at some point, capture THE most striking qualities of the scene and DON'T CHANGE THEM unless something truly better comes along!!!---that you can capture quickly with your colors! Otherwise, get out your camera or come back the next day with a fresh painting!

The most important thing to consider is developing the painting from the large areas--->down to the smaller and smaller areas! And getting the darks, mediums and the lights! If you can capture those qualities along warms and cools within the color and the higher to lower intensities, you'll have wonderful paintings!!!! Very best wishes! Donna ;-}

granddad
06-26-2009, 11:50 PM
Thanks everyone for the wonderful advise and insite. I am most diffenently going out to do more Plien Air paintings now that the weather is nice. Winter will drive me back inside way to soon. Thanks again for all the help. james